Leaves and Street Lamps

Silverware clinks on Rachel’s fine china.

The scents of a day’s worth of cooking hang in the air above the table. Wine. Lots of wine. Not the thirteen dollar a bottle nonsense that was so prevalent in her house growing up. Never that. Not with Rachel’s mother in law here. Alice always ensures they drink the very best, even if it means bringing her own supply of what she considers best.

Her husband’s Aunt Julia, Alice’s sister, sits across the table happily sloshing the contents of her glass around before taking another mouthful. “Such a beautiful home Rachel. Really. You’ve outdone yourself with this meal.”

“Rachel always outdoes herself,” Kelly replies. Rachel ignores the veiled remark from her sister. Kelly sits in the chair next to her own, bouncing a toddler on one knee. The men are clustered around the other end of the table, discussing what sounds like another disappointing performance from the Detroit Lions. The older kids run amok through the house, occasionally darting into the dining room and conversation.

“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself,” Rachel says as best as she is able to.
Julia chews on a mouthful of green bean casserole before taking another hefty gulp. “I am, and I have to tell you. Both of you. Your mother would be so proud of how you’ve kept her tradition going.”

The mention of their mother lifts Kelly’s attention from her baby. Her eyes water and she bites her lip before looking back down. Rachel forces out a smile. “Thank you. It means a lot to hear that.” She takes a healthy sip of her own glass.

Oblivious, Julia presses on. “You know, I never did hear about what happened to your father. Did he pass too?”

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